Israelis gather to watch the annual Independence Day flyover..
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
An investigation has been opened into a serious security incident that occurred during the annual Independence Day flyover, when two C-130 (Samson) transport planes nearly collided, the military confirmed on Wednesday.
An initial investigation found that the massive planes came dangerously close to each other, touching each other’s wingtips without the pilots noticing, the IDF’s Spokesperson’s Unit said.
When the two planes landed back at Nevatim Air Base, southeast of Beersheba, ground crews noticed scuff marks on their wings. While no other damage was caused, the pilots reported the incident to their commanders who launched the in-depth investigation. Evidence was gathered by the ground crews.
The flyover is one of the most popular parts of the holiday, with millions of Israelis watching the combat jets, transport aircraft and helicopters fly over the country, from the North to the beaches along the Mediterranean coast to the desert in the South.
The planes which took part included the C-130 (Samson) transport planes, Beechcraft King Air (Tzofit) utility/transport/trainer planes, Gulfstream G550 (Shavit & Eitam) transport/ aerial refueling/utility/signals intelligence planes, the Boeing 707 (Re’em) refueling aircraft and the F-15 and F-16 fighter planes (Barak, Bezal and Ram).
The planes took off near Beersheba and flew south to Yeroham then north to Arad, Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley to Katzrin on the Golan Heights. They then flew southwest to Haifa, Tel Aviv, Ashdod, Netivot and back to Beersheba for a round-trip of 850 kilometers.
The flyover also saw aerobatic shows and while the Israel Air Force’s F-35 (Adir) squadron is not yet operational, three of the five Adir stealth fighter jets, the most advanced plane in the world, made their public debut during part of the flyover.